PHILLY has a swimmer in ABC's "Shark Tank."
Lori Greiner, an inventor and businesswoman who relishes her role as the "warm-blooded shark" on the show's panel of potential investors, is from Chicago but keeps a condo in Center City to be close to QVC, the West Chester-based shopping channel where she's been selling her products for 16 years.
"Shark Tank" returns for a fifth season at 9 p.m. Sept. 20, but starting at 8 p.m. Sunday would-be entrepreneurs can wade into "Shark Tank Week," a six-night event featuring past episodes chosen by the "sharks" themselves. (Greiner's pick, the "Scrub Daddy" episode from last season, airs at 8 p.m. Monday.)
I spoke with Greiner last month in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Q. So you're living at least part time in Philly?
Because of QVC, we're there all the time, my husband and I, often enough that you don't want to be living out of a hotel. I love the restaurants on Broad Street. I love going out to eat in Philadelphia. We're always trying somewhere new. And it's charming. I grew up in Chicago, so I love the history in Philadelphia. I love the cobblestoned streets.
Q. When you think about sharks, you don't think of them as benevolent creatures.
Right. They're scary.
Q. And investors are sometimes called "angels." But the show is not "Angel Tank." Should people be scared of you sharks?
I think that when you come in to the "Tank," you should know what you're doing, because you have this one opportunity, right? And I think that if someone comes unprepared, that sometimes some of the sharks can [she laughs] chew their heads off. It's the way things go in the world.
Q. Sometimes the entrepreneurs are so badly prepared I wonder if, like the bad singers on "American Idol," they were put in for entertainment. Do you think everyone there is considered to have a serious shot?
I think everyone there has a serious shot. I know sometimes I've surprised people by what was interesting to me. And I remember the Readerest, which was a little magnet that held your glasses; Robert [Herjavec], my buddy shark next to me, thought it was a joke. And I saw it, from my experience at QVC, where I've sold millions of dollars of reading glasses, that this would be a perfect item for anybody with glasses. Sometimes what one person may think is a silly item, another person may see as really worthwhile.
Q. Was that your most successful investment on the show?
No. My most successful investment, at the moment, is the Scrub Daddy sponge, that smiley-faced sponge? That one, we're about to hit $13.5 million in sales.
Q. There are only two women "sharks," and you and Barbara Corcoran don't ever seem to be on together. Why is that?
Last season, we weren't, but this season we are on together, and I think you'll enjoy it.